• SREB’s report to a legislative task force examined funding mechanisms and governance methods for career and technical education systems in six similar or contiguous states.
  • SREB President Stephen Pruitt said Kentucky lawmakers should determine how the state’s CTE system should be governed before setting funding parameters.


By Mike Marsee


A new report from the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) has concluded that if Kentucky’s career and technical education system is to be rebuilt, it’s important that it be built with a systemic approach.

The report, which examined funding mechanisms and governance methods for career and technical education (CTE) systems in six states, was presented to the Kentucky General Assembly’s CTE task force at its Sept. 11 meeting in Frankfort.

SREB President and former Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt said it is important that any major changes to Kentucky’s system be done with a clear vision of what the workforce should look like in the future.

“Make sure all your systems have this unified vision of what you want your workforce to be, and then how do you get there,” Pruitt said.

Pruitt said it is important that career and technical education strike a balance between what employers need today and what they will need in the future. He noted that a growing number of jobs will be lost to automation, saying that by 2030 there is the potential for 720,000 unemployable adults living in Kentucky, many of whom are currently employed but will see their jobs disappear in the coming years.

“If we don’t have a pretty good picture of what we want the workforce to be in Kentucky, we’re going to have a pretty big problem by 2030,” he said. “The curve is really high, and we’re right at the base of it.”

The states chosen for the report – Arkansas, Indiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and West Virginia – were chosen because they are either states of similar makeup or states contiguous to Kentucky. Pruitt said there are aspect of each state’s system that should be considered if legislators attempt to create a new funding mechanism, but he told the panel that it is difficult to compare Kentucky’s system to systems in those or any other states because Kentucky is the only state that has a state-centered CTE program through area technical centers. A common thread with the CTE systems of each of the states in the report is that they are all regionally coordinated and governed.

Debra Lamothe, an SREB school improvement leadership coach who co-authored the report, said CTE leaders in many states also partner with their local workforce development regions in making decisions about their programs and what they will offer.

“They can be partners in making these decisions as opposed to being the recipients of your decisions,” Lamothe said.

Those things are happening in Kentucky as well. David Horseman, associate commissioner in the Kentucky Department of Education’s Office of Career and Technical Education and Student Transition, noted that Kentucky has been working toward a more regional approach to CTE that includes several academies in which districts are working together through interlocal agreements. He also said there is a growing number of CTE consortiums that include business and industry partners.

Pruitt said Kentucky has opportunities that are as good as or better than the 16 states served by SREB because of the state’s level of legislative engagement and its data system that can track students from the classroom to the workforce.

He told the nine-member task force – which includes eight legislators and one representative from the Education Professional Standards Board – that it should determine how the state’s CTE system should be governed before setting funding parameters.

He also said the panel should:

  • Determine what Kentucky’s workforce will look like at least as far out as 2035;
  • Establish goals for those who complete CTE programs;
  • Identify the criteria for high-quality CTE programs; and
  • Address access and equity within the funding model.

The task force is scheduled to meet again Oct. 2 and may hold one more meeting after that. It is expected to make recommendations prior to the legislature’s 2020 biennial budget session.